Wednesday, November 13, 2002

NRA is not for tough enforcement of existing gun laws. Huh. More lying Republicans.

From USA Today
The NRA's traditional call for strict compliance with existing laws suggests it would favor tough enforcement. In fact, the opposite is true. For years, the gun lobby has fought to weaken enforcement by adding loopholes to gun-control laws, while undercutting efforts to keep guns from criminals and crack down on lawbreaking dealers. Consider:

* Punishing dealers. The Tacoma gun shop that once owned the sniper rifle has a history of sloppy record keeping, according to The Seattle Times. Two years ago, the shop could not account for 150 guns, as required by law, but it kept on doing business. Now investigative sources say a federal inspection has found that another 100 guns are missing from the shop, which raises the risk that guns are falling into the hands of criminals.

Such lax monitoring can be traced to a 1986 NRA-backed law that hampers the ability of federal authorities to inspect dealers and prosecute violators. The measure limited inspections of shops to once a year, reduced penalties for dealers who failed to keep proper sales records and added new burdens on prosecutors bringing criminal charges. That helps explain why in 1999 federal agents found 21,000 guns missing from dealer inventories, but revoked just 20 licenses.

* Barring sales. A 2000 court order in Washington state barred Muhammad from harassing his then-estranged wife and children -- an order that would prevent him from legally buying a gun. A 1994 federal law forbids the sale of firearms to individuals who are subject to such restraining orders. Yet, if the NRA had its way, even that protection would be gutted. It unsuccessfully tried to kill the 1994 measure, which expanded the list of those barred from buying guns to include stalkers or harassers under court ''stay away'' orders.

* Tracking guns. Last week, after investigators from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) spent days combing the Tacoma gun store for records of the sniper weapon, the dealer belatedly filed a report saying that the $1,600 rifle was stolen between July and October. The dealer had not noticed that the rifle was missing until agents asked about the gun found in Muhammad's car, the Tacoma News Tribune reported.

Little wonder the BATF didn't investigate the shop sooner. With 500 inspectors to regulate 64,000 dealers, the agency has trouble ensuring that sellers keep better track of guns, and the NRA has worked to keep it that way. For two decades, it has sought to undermine the BATF's authority, cut its budget and damage its reputation. In a 1995 fundraising letter to supporters, for instance, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called BATF agents ''jackbooted thugs'' bent on harassing law-abiding gun owners.